Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/437

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417
EXTORTION OF CONFESSIONS.

that all which is done for the conversion of heretics is merciful, that penances are mercies and spiritual remedies, so that when the unlucky wretch was prevailed upon to ask for mercy in return for his revelations, he was to be led on with the general expression that more would be done for him than he asked.[1]

That spies should play a prominent part in such a system was inevitable. The trusty agents who were admitted to the prisoner's cell were instructed to lead him gradually on from one confession to another until they would gain sufficient evidence to incriminate him, without his realizing it. Converted heretics, we are told, were very useful in this business. One would be sent to visit him and say that he had only pretended conversion through fear, and after repeated visits overstay his time and be locked up. Confidential talk would follow in the darkness, while witnesses with a notary were crouching within earshot to take down all that might fall from the lips of the unconscious victim. Fellow-prisoners were utilized whenever possible, and were duly rewarded for treachery. In the sentence of a Carmelite monk, January 17, 1329, guilty of the most infamous sorceries, it is recorded in extenuation of his black catalogue of guilt, that while in prison with sundry heretics he had aided greatly in making them confess and had revealed many important matters which they had confided to him, from which the Inquisition had derived great advantage and hoped to gain more.[2]

These artifices were diversified with appeals of force. The heretic, whether acknowledged or suspected, had no rights. His body was at the mercy of the Church, and if through tribulation of the flesh he could be led to see the error of his ways, there was no hesitation in employing whatever means were readiest to save his soul and advance the faith. Among the miracles for which St. Francis was canonized it is related that a certain Pietro of Assisi was captured in Rome on an accusation of heresy, and confided for conversion to the Bishop of Todi, who loaded him with chains and fed him on measured quantities of bread and water in a dark dungeon. Thus brough through suffering to repentance, on the

  1. Tract. de Paup. de Lugduno (Martenc Thesaur. V. 1793).-Eymcric. Dircct. Iug. pp. 483 4.-Modus examinandi Hereticos (Mag. Bib. Pat. XIII. 341).
  2. Tract, de Paup. de Lugduno (Martenc Thesaur, V. 1787-88). Eymeric. p. 434.-Archives de l'Inq. de Carcass. (Doat, XXVII. 150).